Ross River Virus Warning - Shire of Northampton

Published on Friday, 6 November 2020 at 8:33:12 AM

Ross River Virus Risk in the Shire of Northampton

The Shire of Northampton is urging residents and travelers within the region to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites over the coming months, to prevent mosquito-borne disease transmission.

The warning follows a recent increase in the number of human cases of Ross River virus (RRV) disease notified to the Department of Health from the Shire, indicating the virus is very active in the local environment.

The current risk of acquiring RRV is highest in Kalbarri, but individuals residing or traveling along the coastal Midwest and Gascoyne regions, from Jurien Bay to Denham, are advised to avoid mosquito bites.

Acting Managing Scientist at the Department of Health, Dr Abbey Potter, said that the increased mosquito activity is likely to be the result of the current La Nina conditions.

"Recent rainfall and increased tidal activity, combined with warm weather, is likely to result in higher mosquito numbers over the coming weeks." she said.

Shire of Northampton CEO, Mr Garry Keeffe, advised "An investigation into the recent increase in RRV activity and mosquito management options is currently being undertaken by the Shire, in collaboration with the Department of Health."

"However, it is not realistic to rely on mosquito management alone to control all mosquitoes.  Individuals living in or travelling to the Shire need to take their own precautions to avoid mosquito bites."

Symptoms of RRV disease can last for weeks to months, and include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rash, fever, fatigue and headaches.  The only way to diagnose the disease is by visiting your doctor and having a specific blood test.

There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for RRV disease, the only way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Despite the warning, there is no need to alter any travel plans.  Individuals living or travelling in the Shire are encouraged to take the following precautions to prevent mosquito bites:

  • avoid outdoor exposure, particularly at dawn and early evening;
  • wear protective (long, loose-fitting, light-coloured) clothing when outdoors;
  • apply an effective personal repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin evenly to all areas of exposed skin and always follow the label instructions;
  • ensure infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites, preferably with suitable clothing, bed nets or other forms of insect screening;
  • remove water holding containers from around the home and garden to ensure mosquitoes do not breed in your own backyard;
  • use mosquito coils and mosquito lanterns and apply barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas around houses; and
  • ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans;
  • use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents if sleeping outside.

For more information, contact the Environmental Health Officers at the Shire of Northampton at either the Kalbarri Office on 9937 1097 or the Northampton Office on 9934 1202.

Alternatively, for more information about mosquito prevention visit:

http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Healthy-living/Prevent-mosquito-bites

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